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LIFE

How to create hard boundaries? Why you should.

Table of Contents

Today is about hard boundaries. Yesterday’s post was about soft boundaries. If you didn’t read it, here’s the link. Soft boundaries are temporary boundaries for temporary situations. Let’s say you have surgery, you don’t want to get a cold and have to cough or sneeze because it hurts like crazy, so you set boundaries around yourself until you are better.

HARD BOUNDARIES ARE DIFFERENT

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Parameters

  1. Created after much thought and prayer.
  2. Meant to protect you emotionally and spiritually.
  3. They must be created with the long view in mind.
  4. In order to remove a hard boundary, something has to change.
  5. They are never vindictive.

So let’s look at each one.

Boundaries Require Thought and prayer.

Because hard boundaries generally involve other people, it is crucial you don’t set any without praying about it. To me, thinking is often the same as praying because the Holy Spirit directs our thoughts if we are walking in God’s will.

Most often, we set boundaries because someone’s behavior is hurting us. We need to be in prayer because it’s a very big step. Sometimes it can mean the end of a relationship. Especially if it’s erected because of our lack of honesty with ourselves, meaning people often set up barriers cause of their own bad behavior. It’s a form of gaslighting, which I address later.

For example, let’s say you are thinking about cooling it in a relationship and setting up some boundaries for future interaction with someone. Be sure it’s them and not you that’s causing the problem. If someone’s remarks consistently get under your skin, is it their remarks or that you have thin skin?

Boundaries protect you emotionally or spiritually.

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Spiritual abuse

We set up boundaries when we are emotionally or spiritually threatened. Sometimes it’s both. Some people use their spirituality to keep others underfoot. This causes recipients to doubt who they are in Christ because they are constantly being undermined.

This happens more than you might think. I might also originate in the pulpit or in Bible teachers. Pay attention to your leaders. Do you feel hopeful or downtrodden after listening to them? I’m not talking about conviction. But even conviction always contains a measure of hope.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse happens when others heap their own hurt on us. While we all do this on occasion, it’s not something we continue to do or put up with. They may ridicule us, call us names, put us down, or make fun of us. They may demean us in the presence of others. Very often, this happens between husbands and wives, and it makes everyone uncomfortable. My husband and I have never once criticized each other in public. We respect each other too much to do that. As far as we’re concerned, it should be a rule of marriage.

Emotional abuse can be very subtle.

If you know the phrase passive-aggressive, you know what I mean. This is the person that keeps you unsettled. An example might be if they tell you, “You pick the restaurant”, and once you’re there, they do nothing but complain and say they wish you had picked another one! In other words, they go along with a decision, and when it turns out to be wrong, they put the blame on you even though they agreed. These are very difficult people. They keep us unsettled.

Gaslighting

Then there are those that gas-light us. Someone that does that will turn things around. Let’s say you are having a discussion, and they say something that hurts your feeling. If you were to bring it to their attention, they will say you misunderstand. They will always turn it back around on you. They will purposely misunderstand what you say. This is not a person you want to hang around with, but you’d be surprised how far some people will go before they say, “enough is enough”. I’ve been there myself because I hate to see a relationship go south, so I often put up with more than I should.

A long-term view

So when we finally get to a place where we know we have to establish some boundaries, we have to view it for the long term. If we don’t, we will falter and put ourselves right back where we were. Don’t go through all the agony of establishing a boundary if you don’t intend to keep it. The next time you are in that exact same position again, with that same person, you will find it even harder.

To lift a boundary, something has to change.

Because establishing boundaries is a difficult decision, we shouldn’t lift them unless we see significant change. People need time to change their behavior, and some never will. But if they do, we definitely should lift it. We would want that done for us as well.

They are never vindictive.

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We don’t establish boundaries to be vindictive. Never. That’s not what they’re meant to do. A boundary isn’t something we do to hurt anyone else. We establish boundaries to protect ourselves.

This is important. We don’t exclude someone from our lives unless we have to. It should be a very hard decision unless our physical safety is at stake.

Types of Boundaries

So, what are boundaries?

They can be time constraints, emotional restraints, social restraints, etc. Let’s look at a few.

A time constraint boundary means we decide to restrict the time we spend with someone. There was a person in my life I learned never to talk to in the morning. It wasn’t just the grumpiness factor. She would say some things that hurt my feelings. but once the day grew older, she was much better. Go figure. Maybe she just needed coffee?

An emotional boundary might mean we desist from sharing deep concerns any longer with someone. We can be friendly, but no longer friends. We distance ourselves emotionally because the person has not handled our emotions well in the past or it’s too one-sided.

Social boundaries might mean we don’t spend time with them socially. In a group, they behave poorly, and it reflects on us. Or, sometimes, people behave differently to us in public, and it’s hurtful.

Boundaries can be really simple, too.

They can even be silly, like never picking up the tab again because you’ve been fleeced too many times.

A “friend” that doesn’t reciprocate? You decide how much of that you will tolerate before you quit picking up the phone. Again, not as tit for tat but because you decide that’s not the behavior you expect in a friendship.

It’s not the first thing we as Christians should ever consider other than the last resort. But when we have no choice, well, we have no choice.

Boundaries come as a result of knowing ourselves.

We’ll never set boundaries unless we value ourselves as God values us. When we realize we don’t have to remain a victim. then we will feel free to protect ourselves. They are not the first option in any relationship but sometimes they are the only option.

So, finally, there are two kinds of boundaries, soft and hard. Soft ones are temporary and for a specific reason. You are in a situation where you need to regroup. Once you have done that, you remove it. Also, this is a boundary you let others in on. Most people will respect that because they’ve been there themselves.

The hard boundary is a difficult one, meaning you put it in place because you need to protect yourself physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They are only set up after much thought and prayer and are not removed unless there is a consistent change of behavior in the other party. They are never our first recourse, and you may or may not let the other party be aware of them, depending on the circumstances.

Jesus put up soft boundaries around himself when needed. As far as a hard boundary? Maybe with those who wouldn’t believe in Him? Jesus never pleaded with anyone to accept his message. I guess we could say the gospel message is a hard boundary. It’s hard to think that way, isn’t it? But the gospel message is pretty specific.

Do you need to establish some soft boundaries for the Christmas season?

What if someone tells you they need to put soft boundaries in place? It works both ways, doesn’t it?

And remember, sometimes it will save a relationship. Many times, if we had set boundaries sooner, a friendship or a relationship might have survived.

God bless, and have a good day.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Don't make be beg.

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